Schedule of the Ox

Posted by Pete DeMola on 26. Jan 2009

Mon, Jan 26
New Year’s Day: Guò Nián (过年)

Good morning! Our eardrums are still damaged from the constant barrage of explosions last night, but we made it. For those of you who huddled inside last night and cursed your neighbors: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, so go out and annihilate a small piece of your city tonight.

Today, cleaning utensils should be put away to assure that luck cannot be swept away. In the past, people would invite a lion dance troupe to further evict all bad spirits from the premises. Some would even avoid fire, and to do so, cooked all food on the previous day.

Visiting with family, friends and neighbors (bainian, or 拜年) is another holiday staple, and a throwback to the legend of Nian. In addition to wearing their new clothes, folks hand out hongbao, or red envelopes stuffed with cash to children, whose cash contents are rising year after year into the thousands. (So we’ve been told.)

Becoming increasingly popular are miao hui, or temple fairs. Usually located adjacent to Buddhist and Taoist temples, the fairs have become a relatively-new addition to the holiday lexicon.

Here in Beijing, the fairs stemmed from what were referred to as “Spring Outings,” which were popular from the mid-fourteenth to the early-twentieth centuries.

Starting on Mon, Jan 25, Beijing will be hosting a slew of these bastions of ancient culture. We’re placing our bets on the city’s oldest, the Ditan Temple Fair (from Jan 25-Feb 1 at Ditan Park) and the most cosmopolitan, the 2009 Chaoyang International Carnival—which will feature performances by Russian bands and a olio of global cuisine—will kick off on Jan 26 at Chaoyang Park.

And if all goes according to plan, the WLIB team will be at the Longtan Lake Temple Fair hanging out—and freezing our asses off—at this fair that is said to feature the widest variety of traditional snacks and foodstuffs.

And did we mention today is the prime time for dumplings? It is. Enjoy!

Tues, Jan 27
Day 2

Traditionally, married women visit their parents. (In the past, married women typically didn’t have too many changes to rendezvous with their birth parents after getting hitched.)

Wed-Thurs, Jan 28-29
Days 3-4

Folks take a breather from visiting relatives. Some argue that due to the abundance of fried food and the preceding flurry of visitations, it’ll become easy to argue. Others believe that if an immediate kin has died within the past three years, graves should be visited on the third day as opposed to house-visiting.

Fri, Jan 30
Day 5: Po Wu (破五) Honoring Caishen: The God of Wealth

Northern folks enjoy making and eating jiaozi, the ever-popular dumpling stuffed primarily with pork and fennel.

The God of Wealth legend originated from a guy named Zhao Gongming. His depiction—often brandishing a sword while seated on the back of a tiger—can often be spotted at the entrances to buildings. It’s believed that the businesses include will attract wealth and prosperity, as well as protect the business being transacted inside.

Sun, Feb 1
Day 7: Ren Ri: (人日)

Stemming from one version of a homegrown creation myth, today marks the common man’s birthday when everyone collectively ages one year.

In Southeast Asian communities with large Chinese populations, yu sheng(鱼生), or tossed raw fish salad, is eaten. Those preparing the salad common do so while wishing for continued prosperity. Buddhists, on the other hand, avoid meat.

Mon: Feb 9
Day 15: Lantern Festival: Yuánxiāojié (元宵节)

Watch for kids, acting as protectorates, carrying lanterns to guide wayward spirits home. Riddles were traditionally deposited in

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